Friday, March 23, 2018

50/50 Friday ~ Best/Worst Classic Novel

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reads and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. This fun themed meme focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc). Every week a new topic will give bloggers the chance to showcase their answers.

This week's topic is the Best/Worst Classic Novel you've read! I've read so many classics over the years that trying to narrow down my choices to the 'best/worst' novel is going to be a difficult one for me to make. 

To narrow down my choices, I'm going to select novels that are classics in American Literature.

The Best American Classic Novel I've Read

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

East of Eden by John Steinbeck

The Worst American Classic Novel I've Read

(Click on above link to read my review.)

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay

I listened to the unabridged audio version of The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay and narrated by Jennifer Mendenhall (although the packaging says Kate Reading, but when you're listening to the audio cd it says Jennifer Mendenhall. Please tell me that's not confusing at all as to who the real narrator is!?!?!).

Listening time for The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay is 5 hours, 56 minutes. 

In 2012, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay (click link to the left to read my review) for a local book club. If you haven't read Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay yet, I highly recommend reading it! 

After reading Sarah's Key, I knew I wanted to read another novel by Tatiana De Rosnay... I just didn't think I'd wait until 2018 to finally do so. I chose to read The House I Loved because I came across a remaindered copy of this novel that was deeply discounted. Also, the plot summary sounded intriguing enough to give The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay a go.

The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay is set in Paris, France in the 1860s and is told primarily through the point of view of Rose Bazelet, a 60 year old widow, as she writes a of letter to her beloved, deceased husband, Armand. 

Normally, I enjoy reading historical fiction, but The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay missed the mark by a long shot. It didn't dazzle me like Sarah's Key did. There were some parts of this novel I did truly enjoy though... Like Rose Bazelet's friendship with Alexandrine, Rose's love for reading books which is something she acquired a love for late in life, and I also enjoyed Rose's tenacity as well. 

I also fully understand Rose's deep connection to her husband's family home as well because this is where she has spent the majority of her life. She has many happy memories of living out her life there... As a side note here, my husband and I lived in Santa Barbara, California for 16 years. Four years ago, my husband was about to be laid off from his job, so he had to find work elsewhere as soon as possible. I wanted to stay in Santa Barbara or the Southern California area in general as I grew up in San Diego and my husband grew up in Los Angeles area. We still have family living in both areas, plus of course friends as well. Long story short, my husband found work in Northern California, so we made the move north. Although I've adjusted nicely to our new surroundings, I still miss living in Santa Barbara dearly and would move back there in a heartbeat. So, I understand why Rose doesn't want to leave her home or her old neighborhood.

However, the storyline for The House I Loved was slow, so very slow that it seemed to drag on at times. The outcome/ending of the novel was predictable, but abrupt The ending could have been so much better than it was. 

Additionally, Rose's character keeps repeatedly alluding to some deep dark secret she wants to share in her letter to her husband... When the secret is finally revealed it is scandalous indeed, as it creates two scandals in one... The scandal itself is a sad one as Rose has kept it to herself for roughly 30 years and still feels quite guilty about it as if the scandal was entirely her fault, but it wasn't. So, it makes for sad reading experience... I am sure the way things turned out in the end of the novel was partly due to Rose's guilt about what happened. Along with a few other factors.

The narration of The House I Loved rendered by Jennifer Mendenhall was excellent and probably what I enjoyed most about my experience of The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay.

The following is a plot summary for The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay from Amazon:
From the New York Times bestselling author of Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept comes an absorbing new novel about one woman's resistance during an époque that shook Paris to its very core.
Paris, France: 1860's. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, moulding it into a "modern city." The reforms will erase generations of history―but in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.

Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for thirty years. Tatiana de Rosnay's The House I Loved is both a poignant story of one woman's indelible strength, and an ode to Paris, where houses harbor the joys and sorrows of their inhabitants, and secrets endure in the very walls...
All in all, The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay just didn't come together well enough to make for a great experience. I am giving The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay a rating of 2 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes Personal Items Sell Well At Auction

As a follow up to a post I made earlier this week regarding the personal effects of Sylvia Plath up for auction, I've decided to write a follow up post about the auction. 

I discovered an article from the LA Times, titled Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes rarities garner big bids in London auction by Michael Schaub. In the article, I learned that Sylvia Plath's typewriter sold for almost $46,000!

However, the following items were the big money makers at the auction:
The star of the event was a first edition of "The Bell Jar" signed by Plath, which sold for just under $123,000, followed by Plath's annotated, uncorrected proof copy of the novel, which went for $105,000.
Click on the above link to learn about some of the other personal effects that sold at the auction in London.

Monday, March 19, 2018


To the best of my recollection, I've yet to read anything written by Sylvia Plath... However, I did come across an interesting article on Lit Hub titled, FROM WALLET TO TYPEWRITER, THE EFFECTS OF SYLVIA PLATH ARE NOW FOR SALE by Rebecca Rego Barry. In the article, Rebecca Rego Barry wrote: 
On March 21, 300 lots of rare books, manuscripts, and memorabilia that once belonged to poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes will go to auction in London. Considering the celestial status of Plath, this sale promises to dazzle. It’s a very personal collection, deriving from their daughter, Frieda Hughes, who shares her concern in the auction catalog’s introduction that treasured pieces of family furniture or jewelry might be lost to history if she doesn’t ensure their future in some tangible way. An auction, she writes, will “enable others to take on the preservation and enjoyment” of these literary relics. “In identifying which items to sell, I realised that much of what I owned, redolent of my parents’ joint history, told a story; one item made sense of other items—the books and the pamphlets and the poems, signed by my mother or father, represented important aspects of their literary lives and were evidence of their powerful partnership.”
I always find it interesting to see the belongings of famous people (especially authors) go up for auction and also learn price the items end up fetching at auction when all is said and done.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Little Free Library in Alamo, California!!

This afternoon, my husband and I found a Little Free Library in Alamo, California!

We'd been having a lot of rain and colder weather here the past few days. So it was fun to take advantage of no rainy skies and leave our home to seek out this newly formed Little Free Library in Alamo.

The Little Free Library looks just like the home it is placed in front of... It's grey with white trim, which I found to be charming as I like cape cod style looking homes and the entire matchy matchy thing is too cute.

Anyway, I left behind five books and took two books. I don't need anymore books to read mind you, which I can't believe I am saying, but it is what is it! How can I resist free books? Especially if they are books I want to read!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

Advance Readers' Edition ~ Paperback
Lucky me! I received an advance readers' edition in paperback of All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker in paperback for FREE through Goodreads Giveaways in exchange for an honest review.

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is a psychological thriller that had me captivated from start to finish! I did not expect this book to be as good as it is... All Is Not Forgotten just has so many layers and dimensions to it... It keeps you guessing and sitting on the edge of your seat as how the story will unfold. The ending was a surprise that I didn't see coming... But when I read the ending it all made sense. I just didn't put it all together before then.

One of the key topics/themes in All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is that 15 year old Jenny Kramer is brutally raped at a party she attends. In the aftermath, Jenny is "given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault". This 'controversial drug' used to medically erase violent memories, raises all sorts of thoughts and concerns for me... If I was a parent, would I want to mentally erase my child's violent assault completely, so he or she didn't have to needlessly suffer from PTSD? Would I want this treatment performed on me without my consent if I had suffered a traumatic event? The answer would be NO to both questions I've posed. 

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker explores the topic of  medically erasing memories in detail, which I found fascinating to read more about. See the YouTube video below of Wendy Walker discussing the memory science behind her novel. 

I also found the narrator for this novel to be a unique one as well. The entire novel is narrated by a psychiatrist named, Alan Forrester, who ends up treating Jenny Kramer in the aftermath and also treating her parents as well. Dr. Forrester is an interesting character for sure... I had a love/hate relationship with him. Dr. Forrester feels intellectually superior to his wife and comes across as cocky at times. 

Dr. Forrester doesn't official introduce himself until several chapters into this novel, which left me wondering who he was until then. I thought reading the point of view of a psychiatrist made for an interesting perspective as I had originally thought that this novel would be told through Jenny Kramer's point of view solely or alternating chapters written from Jenny Kramer's perspective and those of her immediate family members effected deeply by her assault. After reading All Is Not Forgotten, it makes perfect sense that Dr. Forrester is the narrator for this novel.

There is so much more to this novel than what I've written here in my blog post. I'm just unsure how much more to divulge without sharing spoilers to those wanting to read All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker! So, I'll stop while I'm ahead.

The following is a plot summary for All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker from Amazon:
Wendy Walker's All Is Not Forgotten begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect.
Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, struggles to pretend this horrific event did not touch her carefully constructed world.

As Tom and Charlotte seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town - or perhaps lives among them - drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.
I am giving All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 stars.

I've also learned that Reese Witherspoon is working on turning All Is Not Forgotten into a movie... I'd love to see the movie version of this novel as I enjoyed reading the novel so much.

Below is a YouTube video of the author, Wendy Walker, talks about the memory science from her novel.

Until my next post, happy reading!

Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts

I listened to the unabridged Audible version of Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts and narrated by Renée Raudman. Listening time for Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts is 11 hours, 19 minutes.

Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts is the first novel in the Lucky O'Toole series. Lucky O'Toole is a woman, who lives in Sin City, and works at a casino where she pretty much handles any crisis large or small... And she's great at her job!! Lucky is fun, sassy, snarky, confident, and and can handle every situation relating to the business of running a casino. She also knows where to find the skeletons and all the ins and outs of living and working in Las Vegas as only a true veteran can. 

I enjoyed listening to Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts very much. I love the character of Lucky O'Toole... As if you probably couldn't tell by now! The characters and scenarios that Lucky comes across during her typical day are wildly entertaining in this mystery novel and kept me engaged throughout this novel. 

I also liked that Lucky O'Toole is also flawed... She has an interesting mother, but I won't give away the details about it here and now. 

Lucky's love life and social life outside of work aren't much to talk about either as she is a workoholic, but that changes in the novel with a small side story of love and romance for Lucky... I enjoyed reading about Lucky's budding romance throughout the novel. The other supporting characters were fun too. 

Additionally, I enjoyed reading how Lucky solved the murder mystery too. Overall, I'd highly recommend reading Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts.

The following is the plot summary for Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts from Amazon:
Everyone Has a Hidden Talent. 
For Lucky O'Toole it's murder...solving it.
Surviving in Sin City takes cunning, a pair of five-inch heel, and a wise ass attitude. Lucky has mastered them all and has a pair of legs she uses to kick butt and turn heads.
As the Chief Problem Solver for the Babylon, Las Vegas's most over-the-top destination, mischief is in her job description. She's good at her job. She's less good at life. But who has time for a life when there's a killer on the lose?
A woman falls from a tour helicopter to the horror of the 8:30 Pirate show crowd.Was it suicide? An accident? Could she have been pushed? 
Lucky's day began with the invasion of the Adult Video Awards and Trade show convention. It got more hectic when the spouse-swapping annual event checked in. 
And if adding a body to the mix wasn't enough, Lucky's got a new suitor. Her best friend, Teddie, a female impersonator who is pressing to take their relationship to the next level. Can she really date a man who looks better in a dress? 
What happened to the woman over the pirate show? Will her sleuthing skills catch the killer and save her job?
I am giving Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts a rating of 4 stars out of 5 stars.

Until my next post, happy reading!!

Friday, March 16, 2018

50/50 Friday ~ Best/Worst Graphic Novel/Manga You've Read

50/50 Friday is a meme hosted by Carrie @ The Butterfly Reads and Laura @ Blue Eye Books. This fun themed meme focuses on the opposite sides of books (best/worst, differing opinions, etc). Every week a new topic will give bloggers the chance to showcase their answers.

This week's topic is the Best/Worst Graphic Novel/Manga You've Read!

This is a tough choice for me to make as I have not read many books from the graphic novel/manga genre. The books I have read from either genre have either been really good or not to my liking at all!

The Best Graphic Novel/Manga I've read
Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi
(Click on above link to read my review.)

The Worst Graphic Novel/Manga I've read
A Strange Kind of Woman, Volume 1 by Inu
(Click on above link to read my review.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Twenty Questions with Roxane Gay

I've become a fan of Roxane Gay in recent years. I like her writing and her commentary. I came across an article on The Times Literary Supplement titled, Twenty Questions with Roxane Gay. I enjoyed reading Roxane Gay's answers to the questions as it is always enlightening to learn more about writers we admire.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday - Books That Surprised Me In A Good Way!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader GirlTop Ten Tuesday was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I've selected books by authors that either I'd never heard of before reading their book or had heard of before, but felt neutral about their book before reading it.

 Click on links below to read my review for each book.

1. I Am Livia by Phyllis T. Smith - Historical fiction set in Roman times. Not boring, but intriguing!
2. Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim - Historical fiction set in the US during slavery. I loved the characters and the storyline. Very well written.
3. The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers - Another historical fiction novel set during the civil war. Wonderfully written.
4. The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar - Set in India. Shows the dichotomy between the wealthy and the poor.
5. The Good Traitor by Ryan Quinn - If you love reading thriller novels, then this is the one for you!
6. The Selkie Spell by Sophie Moss - The 1st novel in a trilogy and is set in Ireland. I love this novel.
7. The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel - Great storytelling! Deep, dark family secrets/scandal.
8. The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson - Set in the US. Well written. Loved the story and characters.
9. A Life In Parts by Bryan Cranston - I enjoyed watching Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad', but knew nothing about his personal life. I was surprised how much I enjoyed reading his memoir. 
10. Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas - This is another memoir.... It's about sweets and the quest for delicious pastries/desserts and much more... So, if you're a foodie and you like all things sweets related, then you'll love reading this memoir.

Which books have you read that have surprised you in a good way?